Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva has called for more European Union engagement in Africa.
Speaking at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Zaharieva said: “I visited several African countries in November and I can assure you that they want to see more Europe – more investment, more economy, but they want us to do it together”.
She said that Africa offers many economic and trade opportunities but is also a source of security and illegal migration challenges.
“We need to be more active in Africa, not only by guiding the countries and giving lectures to them, but also by supporting and inspiring them to reform more and more,” she said.
Zaharieva said that the EU should also focus more on women’s rights and the development of youth in Africa, helping to strengthen women’s presence not only in the economy but also in politics.
A statement by the Council of the EU after the meeting that foreign ministers discussed EU-Africa relations in preparation for next year’s ministerial and summit-level meetings between the EU and the African Union (AU). The discussion feeds into the debate on a new comprehensive strategy for Africa.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said: “One thing is clear, we cannot have a strategy for Africa without Africa. This has to be something that responds to ownership among Europeans, but mainly with the Africans. We have to reach out to our African partners, and I have asked foreign ministers to be fully engaged on this.”
The statement said that the EU foreign ministers addressed the political, economic, security and demographic aspects of the relationship with Africa. The meeting also touched on important cross-cutting issues such as climate change and digitalisation.
The foreign ministers emphasised that 2020 will be a pivotal year in the relationship between Africa and the EU. The next summit will be an important milestone in modernising and scaling up the EU’s partnership with Africa, the statement said.